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K1: Awareness of the historical origins, parameters, and current issues related to the classification of Other Health Disabilities.

K2: Awareness of the definitions and characteristics of the primary disabilities included in the OHD category (including acquired brain injury, asthma, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, burns, cancer, cardiovascular disorder, Crohn's disease, cystic fibrosis, diabetes mellitus, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, lead poisoning, migraines, neurofibromatosis, primary immune deficiency, sickle cell disease, sleep disorders, and ADHD).

Picture of a classroom teacher reading to her class.Introduction

Many students have chronic and/or acute health conditions. These conditions may range from mild to severe and can be progressive and debilitating or stable and well-managed. Health conditions may or may not interfere with the student’s ability to learn or function well in school. Students may need to take medications, have treatments and therapies during school hours, or have frequent doctor or therapy appointments and/or hospitalizations that interfere with school attendance. These activities can affect the student’s ability to learn and socialize at school. When health conditions interfere with learning, students may qualify for special education services. One of the categories of special education these students may qualify for is Other Health Disabilities (OHD).

Some students with health conditions that are well managed may not need special education, supports, or services. However, when a student’s health condition impacts his/her academic, social, behavioral, and/or emotional functioning at school, then the student should be assessed to see if he/she needs special education services.

In this unit, you will learn how to help identify and understand the support needs of students who qualify for special education under the OHD category. It is important for you to be familiar with this category because as a paraprofessional and a member of the student’s educational team, you might be called upon to participate in assessment and evaluation activities as well as providing support to the student. You might be asked to help gather data and identify possible learning challenges for students with severe or chronic health conditions. You may also be asked to help in the development of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) to meet the learning needs of these students. This unit will help you understand the primary definitions and characteristics of health conditions that are part of the OHD category.

Unit Objectives

Upon completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • Understand what is meant by the special education category of OHD.
  • Understand how a student with chronic or acute health conditions might qualify for special education under the OHD criteria.
  • Understand issues associated with chronic or acute health conditions and how these factors impact a student’s functioning and learning in the school setting.
  • Understand when a student with ADHD might qualify for special education under the OHD criteria.


Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health. (n.d.). Children’s mental health disorder fact sheet for the classroom: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. St. Paul, MN: Author. Retrieved March 29, 2007, from

Minnesota Department of Education. (2007). Other Health Disabilities Companion Manual (Draft). St. Paul: Author. Retrieved March 29, 2007, from

Northeast Service Cooperative. (2006). Fact sheets. Mountain Iron, MN: Author. Retrieved March 29, 2007, from

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